Jakarta. After nine bomb joke incidents in one month and billions of rupiah lost, the Ministry of Transportation has decided to start bringing perpetrators to court.
Under Indonesia's 2009 aviation law, joking about bombs in the airport or on an airplane can land a perpetrator in jail for one to eight years, depending on whether the incidents cause injury or lead to loss of materials or lives.
But enforcement of that law has been lenient over the years. Civil investigation officers at the Transportation Ministry — who are responsible for following up airline incidents — usually do not charge the pranksters with any crimes.
Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi has seen enough and has told his subordinates to stop encouraging the antics.
"I tell civil investigation officers to cooperate with the police to follow up on some incidents related to the information of bombs in airports and follow it through according to law," said Budi Karya Sumadi in a statement on Tuesday (29/05).
"Through this legal action, we hope to give a deterrent effect to bombers, so it becomes a lesson for all of us to no longer joke about bombs," he added.
The ministry is also considering creating a blacklist for passenger cracking bomb jokes, prohibiting them from flying over a certain period of time.
The first person to be charged under the law is FN, an university student in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, who cracked a bomb joke as a Lion Air jet prepared to depart from the city on Monday.
The joke incited panic among passengers and prompted another passenger to open the plane's emergency doors, delaying the flight for hours and forced Lion Air to find a replacement jet for the flight. Eleven passengers were injured in the incident, Lion Air said in a statement.
Adjutant chief Comr. Nanang Purnomo, the head of public relations of West Kalimantan Police, said on Tuesday that the police has named FN a suspect in the case and detained him for further questioning.
The Pontianak incident was the ninth bomb joke so far this month, including one in Banyuwangi, East Java, which involved two local lawmakers from the People's Conscience Party (Hanura) and Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra). The Banyuwangi police did not detain the lawmakers, but said the investigation on the incidents is still ongoing.
Seven of the incidents happened on Lion Air flights, with the other two incidents on flights of the airline's sister company, Batik Air, and Indonesia flagship airline Garuda Indonesia.